06/21/2005 11:00PM

A big step for Spun Sugar

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ELMONT, N.Y. - Spun Sugar has more to achieve before she can be compared to her stablemate, Ashado, last year's champion 3-year-old filly. But Spun Sugar has the opportunity to do something that Ashado couldn't - win Saturday's $300,000 Mother Goose at Belmont Park.

Spun Sugar, a winner of the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan in her last start, will make her Grade 1 debut in the Mother Goose. Last year, Ashado finished second as the favorite in the Mother Goose.

Todd Pletcher, who trains both fillies, said it's difficult to compare Spun Sugar to Ashado, who was the leader of her division when she ran in the Mother Goose. Ashado, a Grade 1 winner as a 2-year-old, raced nine times before the Mother Goose. Spun Sugar made her stakes debut in the Black-Eyed Susan, her fourth career start.

"Ashado was already accomplished as a 2-year-old and had run in the Breeders' Cup," said Pletcher, who trains Spun Sugar for Frank Stronach. Pletcher said that Spun Sugar needed some time off for a splint bone injury after running in a maiden race at Saratoga last year.

"She has always trained well and looks like she wants to stretch out," he said. "She's a filly we've always been high on, and I hope she continues on that path."

Javier Castellano will replace John Velazquez on Spun Sugar. Velazquez is scheduled to ride the Pletcher-trained English Channel at Colonial Downs in the $500,000 Colonial Turf Cup. Pletcher said it was a "tough call" when it came to determining which horse Velazquez would ride.

"Spun Sugar is pretty easy to ride, and Johnny knows English Channel pretty well," Pletcher said.

The 1 1/8-mile Mother Goose is also expected to attract Summerly, the likely favorite, as well as Smuggler and Winning Season. On Wednesday, Lady Pegasus was listed as possible to start by Belmont's racing office.

Second thoughts about Ashado's next

Pletcher said that Ashado, who won last Saturday's Grade 1 Ogden Phipps, will run next in either the Grade 1, $250,000 Go for Wand at Saratoga on July 31 or the Grade 2, $1 million Delaware Handicap on July 17.

After the Ogden Phipps, Pletcher indicated the Go for Wand was the likely target for Ashado, but now the disparity in purse money has given him pause.

"It's a big difference," Pletcher said. "We'll probably run in the Go for Wand, but we will keep an eye on the Delaware race. A million-dollar purse is enticing."

Sis City works for Delaware Oaks

Sis City, who will skip the Mother Goose in favor of the $500,000 Delaware Oaks on July 16, worked in company with stablemate High Limit on Wednesday at Belmont.

Sis City, with jockey Edgar Prado aboard, covered five furlongs in a bullet 58.65 seconds and galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.90 over the main track.

Frankel, who recently took over the training of Sis City while trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. is serving a suspension, said Sis City worked quicker than he expected.

"It was too quick, but she's got time before she runs, and Edgar said she is doing as good as she ever has," Frankel said. Adding that he worked the two horses together primarily for the benefit of High Limit. Frankel said, "I'll keep them separated next time."

High Limit is being pointed to the $300,000 Leonard Richards at Delaware Park on July 17.

Mike Lee starts series

The Mother Goose is the headline race this weekend at Belmont, but a competitive New York-bred race, the Mike Lee, is on tap for Sunday.

The $100,000-added Mike Lee is the first leg of OTBs' Big Apple Triple for 3-year-olds. The seven-furlong Mike Lee is followed by the New York Derby at Finger Lakes next month and the Albany at Saratoga in August.

Gold and Roses, a restricted stakes winner, is among the expected runners in the Mike Lee. Stakes winners Big Apple Daddy and Sort it Out are also probable, as is Blue Sunday, who won his last race by eighth lengths and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 105. On Wednesday, Blue Sunday worked five furlongs in 1:00.47.

Tom Bush, Gold and Roses's trainer, would like to target all three races in the Big Apple Triple and said he thinks Gold and Roses's chances of winning will improve as the races increase in distance.

"The Mike Lee is a pretty tough race," Bush said. "If it were a little farther, I would like us more. He's ready to go after getting a nice freshening."

In his last start, Gold and Roses won a division of the New York Stallion Stakes at Aqueduct on April 24.

Velazquez has picked up the mount on Gold and Roses in the absence of the gelding's regular rider, Shaun Bridgmohan, who moved his tack to Arlington for the summer.